The story of hard-luck Melvin E. Dummar, who claimed to have received a will naming him an heir to the fortune of Howard Hughes.

Director:

Jonathan Demme

Writer:

Bo Goldman
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Won 2 Oscars. Another 15 wins & 9 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jason Robards ... Howard Hughes
Paul Le Mat ... Melvin Dummar
Elizabeth Cheshire ... Darcy Dummar
Mary Steenburgen ... Lynda Dummar
Chip Taylor Chip Taylor ... Clark Taylor
Melvin E. Dummar Melvin E. Dummar ... Bus Depot Counterman
Michael J. Pollard ... Little Red
Denise Galik ... Lucy
Gene Borkan Gene Borkan ... Go-Go Club Owner #1
Lesley Margret Burton Lesley Margret Burton ... Go-Go Dancer
Wendy Lee Couch Wendy Lee Couch ... Go-Go Dancer
Marguerite Baierski Marguerite Baierski ... Go-Go Dancer
Janice King Janice King ... Go-Go Dancer
Deborah Ann Klein Deborah Ann Klein ... Go-Go Dancer
Theodora Thomas Theodora Thomas ... Go-Go Dancer
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Storyline

This movie tells the possibly true story of Melvin E. Dummar. Melvin is a nice guy, but he is a total loser: unlucky, impractical and can't keep a job. One night, however, he helps an old man who has had a motorcycle accident in the desert. Melvin laughs when the old man says he is Howard Hughes, the eccentric multimillionaire. But when Howard Hughes dies, Melvin is mailed a will leaving him part of the estate! Written by Reid Gagle

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

A true story? See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Jason Robards was nominated for the Best Actor in a Supporting Role Oscar for playing Howard Hughes in this movie. It was the third time in five years that Robards had been nominated in this category at the Academy Awards. The first two times, in 1977 and 1978, Robards had achieved the extraordinary feat of winning back-to-back Oscars. The films Robards won consecutive Academy Awards for were Julia (1977) and All the President's Men (1976). See more »

Goofs

The scene where Melvin and Linda are gambling in the casino, their young daughter is sitting with them. Minors are strictly forbidden in any casino gaming areas, especially next to the tables. See more »

Quotes

Lynda Dummar: C'est la vie.
Melvin Dummar: What's that?
Lynda Dummar: French, Melvin. I used to dream of becoming a French interpreter.
Melvin Dummar: You don't speak French.
Lynda Dummar: I told you it was only a dream.
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Connections

Referenced in Dinner for Five: Episode #2.10 (2003) See more »

Soundtracks

She's About a Mover
'Written by Doug Sahm
Performed by Sir Douglas Quintet
Courtesy of Crazy Cajun Records
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User Reviews

 
No Special Effects, No Mega-Buck Stars, Just a Great Film
4 June 2004 | by dglinkSee all my reviews

In this day of $100 million plus movies with special effects that drown out the dialog and stars with out-sized egos and paychecks to match, a film like Jonathan Demme's minor masterwork, "Melvin and Howard," would be lucky to get a video distributor. Even a quarter century ago on its initial release, the film was largely ignored by audiences despite glowing reviews, Academy Awards, and critics kudos. However, those who make the effort to seek out this wonderful fable will be rewarded. Based on a story that may or may not have been true, "Melvin and Howard" spins the tale of an easy going hard luck kinda guy named Melvin Dummar who gives a lift to an old man he finds asleep in the desert. The man says that he is Howard Hughes, and, years later, when Hughes dies, Melvin finds a will that has been left on his filling station desk that names him as one of the heirs to the Hughes fortune. Since we know the ending before the film starts, the pleasures lie in the quirky characters and situations that screenwriter Bo Goldman and a terrific cast have created. Despite the circus that surrounded the question of the will's validity, Melvin was content just knowing that, during their drive, Howard Hughes had sung a song that Melvin had written. His evident joy in that simple event was a rare personal quality even in 1980. There are a lot of other unpretentious, yet memorable, moments in this outstanding film.


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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

19 September 1980 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Melvin Dummar Story See more »

Filming Locations:

California, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$7,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$4,309,490

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$4,309,490
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Pictures See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Stereo

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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